City council beats a “strategic” retreat in ongoing battle over hydraulic fracturing
Denton City Council has decided to lift its ban on hydraulic fracturing, calling the bill’s repeal a “strategic repeal.”
Seven months ago, the city of Denton Texas passed a local ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing. The legislation was met with lawsuits from the oil and gas industry almost immediately, starting a legal battle between Denton and industry groups that were interested in fracing near the city. On May 19, Texas Governor Greg Abbot signed House Bill 40, which “expressly preempts regulation of oil and gas operations by municipalities and other political subdivisions that is already impliedly preempted by state law,” according to the bill’s text.
Earlier this month, Denton City Council considered repealing the ban, saying HB 40 made it unenforceable. Some residents asked the city council to move forward with the ban regardless, triggering litigation that would require the courts to decide whether or not to uphold the ban.
In the end, Denton City Council decided 6-1 to repeal the ban in order to end litigation against the city that came about during the ban, reports The Denton Record-Chronicle. According the text of the initiative repeal, “Denton City Council reluctantly deems it in the best interest of the citizens of this City to strategically repeal Initiative Ordinance 2014-01 (the Denton frac ban).”
“We need to let go of the rope,” said council member Greg Johnson. He went on to call the decision to repeal the ban the least of three evils in two lawsuits against the city.
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